LOS ANGELES (AP) – A trial over veteran television actor Stephen Collins’ divorce was delayed Wednesday after his estranged wife’s attorney withdrew from the case hours before testimony was supposed to begin.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon, the presiding judge over divorce cases, granted a motion by attorney Larry Ginsberg to withdraw from the case.
Judge Mark Juhas, who was slated to preside over the trial, ordered the proceedings to be delayed until Jan. 5 to give Collins’ estranged wife Faye Grant time to find a new lawyer.
The former couple had been scheduled to start an eight-day trial on how to divide their assets and how much spousal support Grant should receive.
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Collins, who starred in the series “7th Heaven,” was not present in court. Grant represented herself at a hearing in which the trial was delayed and her estranged husband’s lawyer sought to reduce her spousal support payments.
The case has been complicated by the release of audio in which the actor purportedly acknowledges molesting underage girls. The recording has not been authenticated by The Associated Press.
Collins, 67, has lost roles as a result of the recording, including a $75,000 part in the upcoming film “Ted 2.”
His attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan said Wednesday that the actor was also losing residual income on the “7th Heaven” series.
Kaplan said having Ginsberg withdraw hours before the trial’s start would be “visiting a terrible hardship on Mr. Collins.” He said the actor has spent $1 million already on attorneys’ and experts’ fees in the case, and the delay would probably cost him another $200,000.
The decades-old molestation allegations are being investigated by authorities in Los Angeles and New York. The actor has not been charged.
Collins contends that his estranged wife should receive no support because the recording from a 2012 couple’s counseling session and its subsequent posting by celebrity website TMZ has destroyed his career.
Gordon ruled on the motion after meeting in closed session with Ginsberg and Grant. Kaplan, Collins’ attorney, was kept out of the proceedings so that Ginsberg could give details on why he was leaving the case abruptly.
Gordon said Ginsberg’s motion was not motivated by an effort to delay the trial and that there was a complete breakdown in the lawyer’s communications with Grant.
Collins filed for divorce in 2012 and most of the issues in the case have been about money, although Grant included details about the molestation allegations in court filings last year.
Grant has said she gave police the audio only after Collins refused to seek appropriate treatment. Grant has denied giving the recording to TMZ.
Grant, who is an actress who has said in court filings she put her career largely on hold during her marriage to Collins, is seeking to maintain $13,000 a month in spousal support payments.
Juhas refused a request Wednesday by Kaplan to reduce Collins’ support payments immediately.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP